The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

I was intrigued by a posting by Jonathon (he author's the Homeless & Disabled in Alabama blog at ) concerning the link between tobacco usage and mental illness. You can read the item he cited at:

In summary, the study shows a link between mental illness and use of tobacco. The rate of tobacco use is far higher in those with a diagnosed mental illness than in the rest of the population. I find the study interesting, but I take a slightly different stance on it.

I have heard about the on-going work to examine the mental health/smoking link and now Jonathon has found some of the results being reported. Like Jonathon suggests, I suspect that the article is factually true, but also like you I suspect that its "flavor" is in the spirit of the anti-tobacco prohibitionist fever.

My take on this is a bit different..... if tobacco use is to be seen for its palliative effects (its ability to be used by people for self-medication), what is wrong with that? Heck, I *do know* for a fact that some days..... my pipe is a driving motivator for me to keep going and to persevere through some sort of annoying or damnable activity I need to do. Sometimes after a really bad day at work, the pipe or two or three I have on the way home helps me to turn my mood when I left work (say for example on a bad day.... grouchy, frustrated, or angry-as-hell) into a much more gentle, serene family oriented mood.... (being able to shed the anger/frustration and refocus on the sharing with and caring for my family).

In the example above, I think the self-medicating abilities I have with my pipe and tobacco are truly one of its most amazing and special gifts! If it had no effect on me then I would not be interested in smoking. The most beautiful thing though about my pipe and tobacco is that it has this ability to have this effect, but not change my presence (such as drinking can do). After smoking a pipe, I am not "intoxicated" in the same way I *can* be after drinking. I'd make the same argument though for alcohol (which I also enjoy ).... it too can be a positive self administered medication. The only difference to me is that alcohol has the ability to intoxicate as well as medicate, so there are more options for its use..... and hence also
more risks.

Now.... what does that mean to me overall? Yes, smoking and drinking are likely not healthy behaviors for the physical body. There is ample suggestion of that. But I think that the "self-medicating" properties of both are used in ways that are often very positive and helpful for the person. I know that for me, smoking my pipe and drinking both have been plusses in my life. The intoxicating portion of drinking can be a bit more dual-edged... it can be very positive, or if mismanaged can be a negative.

My true opinion on the link of smoking and mental health.... I think that most people in the mental health community have a MUCH MORE DIFFICULT time in acquiring the RIGHT KINDS of physician provided medical and health care. Though many of them can receive help via one source or another, I think many people with mental illness get shuffled to the sidelines of most health care situations.... doctor's will prescribe medications according to some vague protocol (at best) or will simply try to quell the "negative" aspects of a person's mental illness with medication to put that part of the brain into a stupor. Neither method is particularly effective in addressing what would be most beneficial to the mentally ill.... true understanding and supportive care. Therefore, I think it is wholly logical for most, if not all mentally ill individuals to use tobacco as a tool to attempt to better medicate themselves into a state of better mental health.

As a neurobiologist, I have studied the role of medications known as serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (most common forms are Prozac and Zoloft). The role of these perscription medications is to have the neurotransmitter serotonin stay in the synapses between neurons longer than it does in people with symptoms of depression. This medication can be very beneficial and useful for some individuals. Nicotine also affects these same pathways. Hence, the use of the tobacco leaf to alleviate emotional depression seems logical.

Just because a substance is not doctor prescribed does not mean it is inappropriate to use. The use of tobacco and alcohol has gone on for numerous centuries and has had positive and negative aspects. It is up to the individual to decide if the use of these substances is helpful for himself.


Thursday, January 29, 2004

We have had some heavy snow here and our ISP broke down, so I have not been here to update like I would have liked to. The snow totals were roughly 11 inches over the course of the two days. That amount of snow would have probably caused few problems if it had not been for the ice storm prior to the snow. The ice storm covered nearly everthing with about 1/2 inch of ice prior to the snowfall. The weight of the ice was the most likely culprit for the outages (of the ISP and electricity (though fortunately I did not lose power)).

So, during the time off, I shoveled the driveway and sidewalks 4 times, and shoveled the very elderly couple's driveway and sidewalks across the street (they are in their early 90s) and shoveled the single mom's driveway and sidewalks next door. All the while I smoked my pipe (actually went through more leaf than usual) and sipped rum-laced mugs of hot chocolate all the while. The physical exertion unfortunately kept me from feeling any intoxication, but the rum did add a pleasant flavor to the chocolate none-the-less.

In the past two days I have come to realize that for 2004 I wish to work on THREE different items that I believe will help make my (and hence my family's) life more enjoyable. They are:

1. IGNORE THE INSANITY! - This is the concept I have outlined before, and I feel it is enormously helpful. I do not need to have other's foul moods, negative attitudes, and rantings keep me from enjoying life.

2. SEEK ADVENTURES! - Big or small (Antarctica would be an example of big, taking a trip to the pipe shop with my elderly father-in-law would be an example of small), taking time to explore and experience what life has to offer is a KEY ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT of what helps me to enjoy life.


3. (The New One) LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE! - this one is sort -of a "Polly-annish" sort of mindset.... but I think it is far more helpful than hurtful in my goal of being a happy person. Instead of viewing the things I need to do each day as a chore, a hardship, or a burden.... I am trying hard to see even the mundane as a fun, useful, and rewarding challenge. I need to flesh this out a bit more in my mind, so I will leave it at that for now.

Talk more soon!


Monday, January 26, 2004

It has been a while since I posted. This past week has been one of those weeks that I typically refer to as "too damn busy for my own good". Classes were nice, and I can feel myself getting into a nice rhythm for in the anatomy & physiology lecture. I also feel that same pace starting for the endocrinology course and for the embryology course. So, at least teaching has been the typically enjoyable activity it usually is. Unfortunately the damn, son-of-a-b*tch*ng, asinine committee work, and the truly wretched and horrid departmental meetings drain any semblance of joy from my spirit.

As I grow ever more grey of beard and moustache, I find I become less and less tolerant of aggravating people who (in these committees and my department) bluster and battle and argue about every damn thing that would alter their own *tiny, little role* in life. Last Friday three of the worst offenders at this in my department ranted and raved for damn near THREE hours about what CLASSROOM they would teach in NEXT FALL!!!! The argument revolves around whether you would teach in the same building our offices are in *OR* (huge, dramatic, Earth-shattering drumroll) you would teach in the building NEXT DOOR that is roughly 10 steps away from the other building!!!

(Please imagine the next line in a highly sarcastic tone.) "Oh, the shame! The torture!!! The social injustice!!!" It is purely asinine and idiotic. I teach roughly 1/3 of my courses in the same building as my office, 1/3 in the building next door, and the other 1/3 in a building across campus. And you know what? I LIKE IT THAT WAY. The distant building gives me time to enjoy a pipe as I walk back and forth across campus and I invariably get to talk with 2 or three of the students who see me and walk with me to and from where I am going. These three people in my department need to have a true attitude adjustment. It was so asinine and foolish that I walked out of the meeting after roughly an hour.

The above meeting represents how the non-teaching, non-family aspect of my week went. Suffice it to say, I GLADLY sought out my father-in-law's company Friday afternoon and we again made a relaxing afternoon of pipes, cigars, alcoholic libations and *enjoyable* talk.

So, this is the start of a new week and my vow is to follow the mantra I developed last year and have been trying to incorporate into my life (it has been a slow process):


I am going to step outside to have a pipe right now, I only have a few moments before the anatomy class begins.


Monday, January 19, 2004

When people try to communicate, even the very skilled among us can misconstrue. A sad case in point was seen in my local newspaper over the weekend. The arts/entertainment editor had a very long piece about this yahoo who was berating our local art scene. The editor wrote a mostly eloquent piece defending and showing the value of art. But at the end of her essay that [paraphrased] unlike cold, sterile science, art is about expression and creativity.


I am a person who truly loves and appreciates all sorts of art.... sculpture, paitings, theater, etc, but at the same time I am a scientist. It infuriates me how the two camps of arts and sciences seem to try to be so diametrically opposed to eachother. The "artists" fear and poo-poo science as dull and uninspired. Or worse yet they propogate more the "mad scientist" nonsense that is so prevelant in our society. Many science folk are just as bad.... they talk about art as being unsubstantial.

WHEN WILL PEOPLE FINALLY UNDERSTAND that both art and science are hugely important, creative pursuits? Why is it that for most of society these two subjects are polarizing issues? Why the hell is it so hard to find beauty, grace, charm and creative expression in BOTH art and science.

It infuriates me when people denegrate science. Likewise it is assinie when people denegrate art.


I am going to step outside now and sooth my frustrated and angry soul with a few deeply drawn lungfulls of rich, thick, creamy smoke from my beloved briar pipe..... to quell my savage soul. I have a heavy, vanilla cased burley today, so as to not overly upset the faint of heart folks that will complain because of the mild scent of my pipe upon my breath and in my beard and moustache.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

The storm dumped almost all of the projected 10 inches on us. I spent the greater part of the afternoon snow plowing the driveway and sidewalks as I had predicted. Plowing snow is not such a bad task if you fortify yourself with a few shots and a beer first. Then I spent the evening after dinner reading the newspapers and enjoying the blackberr/sage leaf while the rest of the family sat glued to the television.

While last night was pleasant, I awoke this morning stressed as hell. Perhaps it was my lack of being prepared for the day, or perhaps it was my dislike of the start of the semester, or perhaps it was something else entirely. But I was grumpy and out of sorts all day. I still feel that way, actually. But I suppose I will get over it.


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I am smiling a wide, furry-faced grin of happiness.

I love storms and we are in the midst of an anticipated 8-10 inch snowstorm. It is beautiful outside. As my work at the University is done very early today, I think I will go play in the snow (and shovel the driveway and sidewalks of course), but on the way home I will stop in the pipe shop for more of the blackberry/sage pipe tobacco. I have had a strong hankering for some all day.

If you are new to reading this blog, be sure to scroll down a bit to Monday, January 12th and Saturday, January 10th entries. I am especially pleased with them.

My pipe awaits!

Pipe Tobacco

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I have so enjoyed the blackberry/sage flavored burley pipe tobacco that I have nearly smoked all of it and will have to plan a return trip to the tobacco shop! If you wish to read about my experiences with said leaf, please read the blog from Monday and/or Sunday.

A special note: If you wish to read a wonderfully well written blog, with deep insight into the workings of our mind, I want to strongly encourage you to hit the link to the right entitled:

Homeless and Disabled in Alabama

All the blogs I have links to are very good reads, but Jonathan's blog has struck an especially strong chord with me. I think he has a true message worth listening to.


Monday, January 12, 2004

Life can be good at times. I am getting into the first day of the new semester. I am looking forward to the new faces of the students, but I am also still relishing the moments from Friday. Therefore, if you read this, I urge you to scroll down to the January 10, 2004 entry. It describes a wonderful day.

Of added note.... the blackberry/sage infused pipe tobacco is indeed a heavenly nectar. As I filled my very large-bowled, full bent, tradtional Peterson pipe, I could see the texture of the leaf was that of a cube-cut... all similar in size and shape (unlike the more common ribbon cut leaf). The cube-cut was a wonderful sign, for it is more commonly seen in strong, robust mixtures.... the type I am most fond of. The smell of the leaf out of the pouch had an ethereal quality of beauty and grace. I could hardly contain myself waiting to meld the flame from my trusty lighter with the new leaf! As I slowly nurtured the flame into the bowl, the great quafts of smoke that ensued were fragrant and lovely. Finally, with the leaf fully alight and the bowl growing warm in my paw, I took a deep draft from the stem, inhaling deeply this new leaf. My satisfaction was easily apparent if you saw the broad, furry-faced grin of contentment and relaxation upon my face as I slowly exhaled the thick, rich smoke. Pure bliss.


Saturday, January 10, 2004

It was a beautiful afternoon!

Not being overly excited about being a "lone wolf" in my adventures, before I headed out I called my father-in-law to see if he would be interested in a trip to the pipe shop as well. He was! So, now I had a compadre for the adventure. My father-in-law does not like to drive much anymore because of his age, so he was delighted to go with me.

Upon our arrival at the shop, both of us were greeted with wonderful new odors from the mix of all the different leafs available for us to select from. I could see the same level of excitement in my father-in-law's eyes as I could feel in my own self. We spent quite a while looking at new pipes, smelling samples of leaf, and chatting about all sorts of "pipey" related ideas and even purused the cigar humidor quite extensively. In the end, both of us were rather frugal in our aquisitions for it would then make it easier to have "need" to visit this wonderful "toy store" again soon. My take was two different leafs... one a tin of latakia, a beautifully strong and robust leaf that pulls no punches, and a new mixture blended this month with extracts of blackberry and sage in a hearty burley leaf. The mix sounded odd, but intrigued me enough to give it a try in my pipe. My father-in-law purchased a large volume of his stock vanilla leaf, and a few Arango Sportsman cigars.

I asked my father-in-law if he was interested in having a drink at the nearby tavern. As luck would have it, he was in a grand mood and instead suggested we go back home and drink there and just talk. Part of the reason is that with his hearing aids, it is difficult for him to focus on a single sound stream in a noisy place such as a bar, but also if he wants to drink at home, it means he is itching to have somthing fairly robust to drink with someone. My good fortune!

Once at his home, he set up tall tumblers of ice and beverage for his drink of interest that day... a good old-fashioned Seven & Seven. One of the things (of many) that I enjoy about my father-in-law, is that he is not the least bit shy about his enjoyment of pleasures in life. He made each of us a very stiff (at least a double if not a triple) to start off the beginning of the afternoon. Both being thirsty, we both savored but quickly consumed the first drink. We turned on the television to the various news channels for conversation fodder, and he made us a second tumbler of the heady elixer. As we started into the second glass, the first had enough time to begin to take effect and we both were itching for our tobacco treats. He unwrapped one of his cigars while I filled the bowl of my pipe with the rich latakia. He struck a match and I my lighter and both of us sat and gently indulged in that magical moment. We each savored how the bit of alcohol washed across our neurons and were invigorated by the harsh, yet soothing rush of nicotine as it coursed through our veins into our minds.

We countinued to chat in quite an animated fashion through our third (equally robust) drink. We also continued to dip deeply into the indulgence of our tobacco as well. We laughed, we grew teary eyed sometimes, we debated about life and its variances. It was a VERY GOOD time. By the middle of the afternoon we were rather somewhat shloshily inebrieated and the conversation quieted as we watched headlines roll by on the television screen. We both snoozed on - and - off for an hour or two, each in one of the large comfortable Lay-Z-Boy recliners that were in my father-in-law's family room. By the time my mother-in-law arrived home around 5pm the intoxicants had mostly dissipated from our minds, but the cherrished discussion and memories would last a lifetime. He and I shook hands, as has been our custom my whole married life, and I drove home for dinner with my wife.

A truly beautiful day of friendship and comaraderie and play.


Friday, January 09, 2004

Life has just been too damn busy for my own good. In order to feel happy, life needs both a purpose and times where you are free to explore and relax.... without meetings, appointments and other issues.

The following quote is of value to me:

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

- Alexander Graham Bell

This is a motto that I *try* hard to live by, although I am often not able to follow. I feel that it is important and significant for for me to be a *success* in the way I define the term...... success to me is to provide service to my world. The service communities I live in most are a) my family, b) my university, c) my local community, and d) my global community.

However, I have found this week that I DO NOT prepare my own enjoyment in life. I think it is something I *should* also prepare for. Hence, I am 100% driven to take that long awaited "hooky" break this afternoon. I have decided to expand the effort as well:

I vow that I am going to leave work early today and a) go puruse and play at my beloved pipe/pipe tobacco shop, and b) I will also go play at the tavern next door to the pipe shop and indulge in a few to several potent libations this afternoon.

I plan to keep this prepared for event today!

Pipe Tobacco

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Well, a milestone was reached yesterday for this blog. My counter is now into 4 digit numbers. That is correct.... I have now had over 1000 views of my blog. To me that seems amazing and I am thankful that my readership is growing.

Unfortunately I became too damn busy in preparing for the new semester yesterday to sneak out and visit the pipe shop, but I am going to strive to get there this afternoon. I have been hankering to see the new January pipes and perhaps sample 2 or 3 of the new blends of leaf.

Emotions are both a blessing and a curse. Experiences of joy and contentment are blissful. Sadness and loneliness are a challenge but usually are emotions you can use for growth and development, so they even have a benefit. However, feelings of shame, distrust, inadequacy, and fear are abombinations. Living with feelings of worthlessness via the "Cool Guy Syndrome" are, I believe (for those who suffer from this syndrome), at the core of MANY of our difficulties in life. The waste of energy used in dealing with these emotions consumes so much that it is akin to needing to drive around an emotional "gas-guzzler" to cope instead of being able to drive a fuel efficient model. The pollution that I must emit being a "gas-guzzler" is horrid.

I want to rid myself of this huge "Syndrome Beast" and be able to become more emotionally energy efficient. I care for the planet, and just like actual fuel polluting our land, I feel that "gas guzzler" emotions also pollute our land. If I can successfully shed this waste this year, I will have truly contributed something worthwhile in making the world a better place.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Life is hectic at times but I think I am making progress in learning to *enjoy* this gift of life. I have been consistent in exercise and eating for roughly two weeks now and I feel more energetic because of it. I feel I am starting to regain my focus in life as well. I still have many things to fix, but now I am also ready to get back to exploring and experiencing life in all its variances.

I am also thinking of playing "hooky" so to speak and spending part of the afternoon in the wonderful pipe shop since I did not make it there yet. Thank you all who are reading my blog! I really appreciate your time and also your comments!

Pipe Tobacco

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Just to show you how the post I wrote on "cool guy syndrome" relates to a very useless part of my inner psyche, here is something that happened to me yesterday:

In the community band I participate in, I have been the sole bass clarinetist for several years. Yesterday, this young woman (with a perky expression, and a "cool demeanor" comes to join our group and she is also a bass clarinetist. Even though I did not change facial expression, my inner psyche was already "grumbling under his breath" about this intrusion by a "cool person". I told my inner psyche to be reasonable and to relax.

Within a few moments of beginning practice (which tonight was sight reading of new music as we are starting a new series for winter) I could tell that this young woman was an exceptionally good player. My inner psyche quickly started ranting in my mind.....

Well, the group does not need me anymore.

I might as well quit playing for the band.

It is embarrassing to be this horrible at sight reading in comparison to this young woman.

I am just a "poseur" and not a real musician at all..... why do I even try?

Maybe I will just pack up and leave during the break.

Her bass clarinet is far nicer and of a higher quality than mine.

She is talking with other "cool people" in the group already. She and the "cool" baritone sax player are gabbing together a mile-a-minute already.

How can she play this brand new music so perfectly already whereas I struggle and sound like a parrot with bronchitis when I site read?

I am worthless.

Now, please keep in mind that I *did not * SAY any of those things, nor did I outwardly act in or on any of those ways. My exterior facade was pretty much as it usually is.... my furry face and my glasses give me a somewhat owlish/professorial appearance..... but.... and this is the KEY MESSAGE.... I was in turmoil inside. I felt grumpy, I felt unvalued, I felt like a DORK.

Luckily, over the years I have learned to ignore or at least push aside those feelings of inadequacy for a while as I simply observe. That is what I did last night as well. What I found out is...

1. This young woman just graduated from college with a B.A. in performing arts (in December) with the bass clarinet as her primary instrument. Now it made sense.... she is of course an EXCELLENT player as it is her career passion. She has spent her college career working on becoming her very best on this instrument.

2. She was so chatty with the baritone sax player because she knew him from high school. They were friends who had not seen eachother for 3 or so years.

3. She was so very good at sight reading not only because of her talent but because she had gone to the school where our conductor has his teaching job and had played virtually all this music before!

I did not learn any of the three above items until after we played our last song of the evening... a completely new (unopened, just purchased) score that not even the director had seen before. As we played through the piece, I noticed that the young woman made a few mistakes (not as many as me, but several none-the-less) and it allowed me to relax a bit and to push back the feelings my inner psyche was shouting in my mind. It was only then... during the last few minutes of rehearsal that I found out the above three items.

So... the moral of the story....... is that I was successful in combating my inner psyche, but only by the "skin of my teeth". I was able to figure out the situation and become comfortable with it and to shed the overwhelming sense of inadequacy and failure that my inner psyche was helping me to experience.

BUT.... THE PROBLEM IS.... that I think, want, and believe I should be able to find a way to make my inner psyche NOT respond in that manner. Why is it that I immediately feel inadequate or worthless or "uncool" in these sorts of situations? Why is it that I cannot completely view myself as simply another person with strengths and weaknesses like everyone else? Why do I end up wasting SO MUCH ENERGY (mental, physical and spiritual) on these feelings conjured up my inner psyche?

That example sums it up in a nutshell.... that is what I feel and experience regularly and call it the "cool guy syndrome". It is my nerdy, geeky, dorky way of responding to those (virtually everyone) I believe are "more cool" than I am.

I think that this response (which feels innate but I hope is learned and can be unlearned) is the biggest waste of my time and that is why it is my resolution to try to figure out a way to get rid of this sort of feeling/response in 2004.


Monday, January 05, 2004

I am quite happy with my post yesterday (Sunday). Since there are no comments, I am fearful no one has read it. Therefore, if you read my blog today, I am hoping you will scroll down and read the Sunday, January 4th entry.

I came to work at 5am today (no classes yet) so that I could get out earlier and spend some time (and perhaps money) at my "kid in a candy shop" pipe store. I have not gotten a chance to see their new January blends of leaf. Hence, I will stop here so I can get back to work and get out to play as soon as possible!


Sunday, January 04, 2004

As I stare into the bowl of my pipe, looking at the grey ash covered, red ember of the magical melding of flame and leaf, what am I to think about the day? Within that red ember... I see peace, tranquility, and a sense of calmness. The flame consuming the leaf is very much a metaphor for life. The flame is *time* and the leaf is our corporeal *body* that is being spent through life.

Now the question is what is *your* flame like and what is *your* leaf like? The answers are significant:

If the flame is hot, searing, and intense.... like the fire of a welder's arc, or the flames from a grill with too much starter fluid, then your life will be spent quickly, the time you will have will be *intense* albeit brief.

If instead your flame is gentler.... akin to the glow of a campfire, or the fire deep in the logs themselves as they are consumed, then your life will last a long time. You will have the warmth of the flame, but its consuming of you will be slower, longer, and more quiet.

If your leaf is baren and dry, such as is a pile of leaves raked in the yard in the fall, or wads of crumpled newspaper.... then your fuel is going to be spent quickly. You do not have enough density to form an ember with the flame, for the flame will consume you nearly instantaneously.

If your leaf has a robustness, perhaps due to a bit of flavoring or moisture.... then your fuel will be able to last much longer with the flame. You have a density and resiliancy that will keep you stronger, far longer.

Think of a campfire or a homefire: If you use dry, old, brittle wood, the fire is intense and brief. If you use wet, green wood, the fire is slower, cooler, and will last much longer.

In my pipe, the flame I have is cooler, and the leaf I enjoy is flavorful and moist. Hence, the beautiful pipe will last a long time, if I am careful and gentle, I can indulge from her for more than an hour.

In my view of life, I hope and wish to be a moist, flavorful leaf that is consumed by a cool, gentle flame.

Pipe Tobacco

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Saturday morning, a steamy-hot mug of coffee (actually an old tin cup from camping) and a beautifully warm bowl of vanilla-tinctured burley leaf in my pipe. A wonderful way to start the day.

Friday was much better than expected. I did get on track and accomplished most of what I had earmarked for the day. I was able to break out of the feelings of inadequacy and "uncoolness" all day, but it was not a full test as it was a day where I did not meet many people... even the gym where I work out at was devoid of people.

As I sit here sipping my coffee and nurturing my pipe, I cannot help but believe that there is *hope* that every day can be as good or nearly as good as yesterday. Life *is* a wonderful gift..... but it would *feel* like the gift that it is if the serenity, continuity, and consistency of yesterday were able to happen more and more frequently.

Today's goals are to finish more work at the office (preparing lectures, writing syllabi, writing letters), to work out, to spend some time in the library looking for new research articles, and hopefully going "mit die vife und kinder" to the local museum this afternoon.


Thursday, January 01, 2004

Well, yesterday was rough. Today will hopefully be a start of a new perspective on life. I think I will talk about the "cool guy syndrome".

I use the vernacular "cool guy syndrome" because it seems to typify the message I wish to bring to all of you today. I think that many of us may share the same sorts of feelings and perhaps if we can keep this idea in our mind it may help us....

Many of us were outsiders in our K-12 experience. What I mean is that we were not part of the "elite" click of folks who seemed to run the place and hence our world. People of the "elite" click determined who were "in" and who were "out". They determined what was "cool" and what was not. I *was not* part of the click. Instead, I spent my time with a bunch of wonderful people who typically were classified as the "nerds", or the "brains", and our group also embraced many of the "loners" and others as well. Well, whether it is a psychological truism or not, I feel that for most of us, the developmental period that occurs in junior high school and high school shapes how we *view* ourselves. A case in point:

In my day to day actions, subliminally, I still consider myself a "nerd" or an "outsider" and when I meet a new person, I will usually adopt that same posture/position in how I deal with this person. Typically, I presume first that the person is one of the "cool" people and that I need to defer to them.

In my adult mind, when I have a few minutes to work thorough my innate reaction, I can of course realize that in most cases in adulthood, those damnable labels of "cool" or "geek" or "nerd" do not apply, but it *does* take a very concerted effort to act outside of my original "nerd/outsider" role. I think that unfortunately, since it is the developmental experience I had growing up, it is deeply imbedded in me... but I feel that if I can learn and force myself to not have that initial gut response, I could make significant leaps in my own happiness and contentment in life. And, as a bonus, I think I could also be more successful in making other's lives happy and healthy as well.

Therefore, my sole New Year's Resolution for 2004 is thus:

I hope and plan to not continue to adopt those subserviant roles of "nerd" or "outsider" in my dealings with others. Instead, I wish to have *MY FIRST THOUGHT* to be that we are all equals with value and inherent worth.

If I can do this at the start, instead of having to work through my own feelings of inadequacy before I get to that notion of equality, I think I will have accomplished an enourmous amount. It will benefit me, my family, my work, and my dealings with others. That is my hope for 2004.

My beautiful briar pipe is now cold. I think I shall close here for today.

Pipe Tobacco